Georgia Tech lost to Florida 3-1 in the NCAA golf national championships Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The Jackets, who beat top-seeded North Carolina 3-2 a day earlier, were shooting for the school’s first national title in men’s golf.
Individual champion Fred Biondi of Florida beat Tech’s Hiroshi Tai 1 up with a par on the 18th hole as the Gators won their fifth men’s national title.
Florida’s Yuxin Lin won the opener 4 and 3 over Christo Lamprecht, but the remaining matches went down to the wire in the strongest wind of the week at Grayhawk Golf Club.
“I think it kind of flipped on 17 and 18,” Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler said. “It took matches to the pipe all the way to the end and they [Florida] made some birdies on 17 and we didn’t, and that was really the difference. Great team. Salute to them, they played well. We were just a little short again.”
John DuBois closed out Connor Howe 1 up to put Florida up 2-0. But Georgia Tech’s Bartley Forrester beat Matthew Kress on the second extra hole after blowing a 2-up lead with two holes left.
Biondi had a 1-up lead after a conceded birdie on the par-4 17th, then Tai’s second shot from the left rough on 18 plugged in the greenside bunker. He hit to about 10 feet, but Biondi two-putted from 35 feet to become the first player to win individual and team championships in the same season since Oregon’s Aaron Wise in 2016.
Florida’s Ricky Castillo led Ross Steelman 1 up on 18 when Biondi secured the Gators’ first national title since 2001.
After losing an early 2-up lead, DuBois won his match on 18 with a par after Howe hit his second shot well left of the green and pitched off the green.
Forrester appeared to be in control of his match, going 2 up after his tee shot on 16 hit the flagstick and dropped to 2 feet for a conceded birdie. Kress stayed alive when Forrester three-putted from 25 feet on 17, then sent the match to extra holes by hitting it to a foot on the long par-4 18th.
After matching pars on No. 10, Kress hit his tee shot on 18 left into the desert and was forced to take a drop. He took a double bogey and Forrester won it with a two-putt bogey.
Lin took advantage of Lamprecht’s wild drives and made the turn 4 up after a birdie on No. 8. A couple of bogeys by Lin allowed Lamprecht to cut the lead to 2 up, but Lin curled in a birdie putt to win the 14th after hitting his tee shot into the left rough.
Lin closed it out by getting up and down for par from a tough spot right of the 15th green after Lamprecht’s three-putt bogey.
Steelman struggled early, but erased a 2-down deficit with pars on Nos. 9 and 11. He then took his first lead of the match with a birdie on No. 12.
Castillo had a chance to win the 15th, but his putt slid by the hole and the fiery senior kicked his ball into the desert. He tied it on 16 when Steelman hit well short of the par-3 and took a bogey.
Steelman hit his tee shot way right into the desert on No. 17 and ended up taking a drop on the 14th tee, leading to a bogey that put Castillo 1 up before the championship was decided ahead of them.
Heppler was still proud of his team.
“They’re like your kids,” the Tech coach said. “They come and go, but they are always part of what you’re doing. I’ve heard some of the comments and it’s nice to be liked. But their commitment, this group here, was as good as any as we’ve ever had and they love each other. They work from 6 o’clock in the morning to 10 o’clock every night for nine months and were just a little bit short.”